On June 22, 2022 the World Health Network (WHN) has declared Monkeypox a pandemic. On June 23, 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) held a session on the Monkeypox outbreak behind closed doors, They concluded the Monkeypox outbreak doesn’t yet constitute an escalation to pandemic status, rather , “At present, does not determine that the event constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).”
Who and what is the World Health Network (WHN) and how are they different from the World Health Organization (WHO)?
Let’s look at the different entities, starting with the World Health Network (WHN).
Initially used for the Covid 19 pandemic, “The New England Complex systems uses next generation science (AI) to meet societal, organizational, and global challenges.”
The WHN started in 2020 in response to the Covid 19 pandemic. The members are comprised of scientists, physicians, systems scientists, and other disciplines.
Their mission statement: “Our mission is to end the spread of COVID-19 by mobilizing science and compassion into action, advising policymakers and empowering communities with practical strategies to eliminate COVID-19. We are dedicated to protecting health and wellbeing and restoring the economy.
They now have taken on Monkeypox as their new project.
Their statement on Monkeypox:
IN VIEW OF:
- The growth of Monkeypox in 58 countries through local community transmission around the world, with 3,417 confirmed Monkeypox cases reported across 58 countries, and the rate of growth of cases increasing week by week across multiple continents
- The severe pain, scaring, blindness, and death, which has been observed in cases of Monkeypox historically.
- The greater severity of Monkeypox in children, who have thus far been spared during the current outbreak but are likely to be infected increasingly as community transmission expands.
- The danger of transmission to wildlife, including rodents such as mice, rats, squirrels, and domesticated pets, which would become a reservoir that will expand across the world leading to ongoing risk of human infection and the need to modify daily life due to this ongoing risk to avoid exposure in many contexts.
The World Health Network (WHN) declares the monkeypox outbreak a Public Health Emergency of Global Concern, by which it indicates that this outbreak is not limited to a single country or region and should be addressed by immediate actions taken wherever community transmission is taking place in order to ensure that the least effort is needed, and the smallest impact is suffered due to this outbreak.
The World Health Organization (WHO)
Founded in 1948, WHO is the United Nations agency that connects nations, partners and people to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable – so everyone, everywhere can attain the highest level of health.
The WHO consists of over 8.000 professionals including doctors, epidemiologists, scientists and managers. They coordinate the world’s response to health emergencies, promote well-being, prevent disease and expand access to health care.
A summary of their conclusions:
- “The WHO Director-General concurs with the advice offered by the IHR Emergency Committee regarding the multi-country monkeypox outbreak and, at present, does not determine that the event constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). “
- “ since the beginning of May 2022, 3040 cases have been reported to WHO from 47 countries.
- Transmission is occurring in many countries that have not previously reported cases of monkeypox, and the highest numbers of cases are currently reported from countries in the WHO European Region.
- Initial cases of monkeypox, detected in several countries in different WHO Regions, had no epidemiological links to areas that have historically reported monkeypox, suggesting that undetected transmission might have been ongoing for some time in those countries.
- The majority of confirmed cases of monkeypox are male and most of these cases occur among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men in urban areas and are clustered social and sexual networks.”
- Some Members of the Committee expressed the views that laws, policies and practices that criminalize or stigmatize consensual same-sex behavior by state or non-state actors create barriers to accessing health services and may also hamper response interventions.
- Member acknowledge that Monkeypox outbreaks in endemic countries has long been overlooked and the need for further surveillance in these countries is needed.
- A reassessment of the outbreak in 21 days from date of meeting will be done to evaluate if further response is warranted given the current unknowns, such as
“evidence of significant spread to and within additional countries, or significant increases in number of cases and spread in endemic countries; increase in number of cases in vulnerable groups, such as immunosuppressed individuals, including with poorly controlled HIV infection, pregnant women, and children; evidence of increased severity in reported cases (i.e. increased morbidity or mortality and rates of hospitalization; evidence of reverse spillover to the animal population; evidence of significant change in viral genome associated with phenotypic changes, leading to enhanced transmissibility, virulence or properties of immune escape, or resistance to antivirals, and reduced impact of countermeasures; evidence of cluster of cases associated with clades of greater virulence detected in new countries outside West and Central African countries.”
On June 28, 2022, the WHO published a downloadable pdf on “Public Health Advice for Gatherings During the Current Monkeypox outbreak”.
Transmission of Monkeypox :
“Key transmission routes include skin-to-skin, mouth-to
mouth and mouth-to-skin contact during sexual activity.
Transmission can also occur through skin-to-skin contact
not related to sexual practices, face-to-face contact via
respiratory droplets and from contaminated surfaces
or material; it is still unclear if infected people with no
symptoms can transmit the monkeypox virus, making it
important for anyone attending gatherings to exert
Many of these outbreaks are in the younger population. These individuals have not received a smallpox vaccination (which was declared eradicated in 1980) has been shown to be effective against monkeypox, given its similarities. (There are newer vaccines that are specifically for the Monkeypox now available)
The fact is that countries are mostly guided by World Health Organization recommendations. World Health Network may issue declarations, however given they are relatively new in the healthcare field and are mostly an artificial intelligence business, (with participants in healthcare, epidemiology and other disciplines) their influence on current policy is very limited at the moment.
We will be monitoring the Monkeypox outbreak over the coming weeks and months, and provide updates as they come in.